Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection

I’m too young to have a heart attack….

March 4, 2016

I never thought I would be a heart attack survivor at the ripe old age of 41. Years ago, I had read the signs of a heart attack and stroke just to be on the safe side. And I am happy that I did. One Saturday afternoon, I was lounging around the house because I didn’t feel 100%. I just figured I caught some bug from one of my kids and I would just sleep it off. I woke up from my nap and decided to eat some chicken noodle soup. Just as I finished eating I started have burning in my chest that radiated up to my jaw. The burning in the chest I could chalk up to heart burn even though I have never had heart burn but the jaw pain was something totally different.

Since I have high blood pressure and am currently treated for it, I decided to check my blood pressure. It was 180/120. Then I remembered that jaw pain could be a sign of a heart attack. In light of my blood pressure and severe jaw pain with burning in my chest, I was off the the ER. In the ER my pain subsided, my blood pressure went down to 160’s/100’s, my EKG was normal, and all my blood work came back fine. So the ER doc sent me home and told me to come back if any of the symptoms reappeared.

I was fine on Sunday and Monday with no reoccurring symptoms. My energy was fine and I didn’t feel sick. On Tuesday when I woke up I felt horrible. I had diarrhea and was so tired I slept the whole day away. I finally got up to eat dinner and tried my hardest to stay up until bed time. At about 9:30 I was back in bed and ready for sleep but the pain came back two fold. This time it was so much more painful that before. I didn’t know what to do since I was previously told this was not a heart attack. I tried tums for heart burn. But the pain did not go away. The pain centered around my chest and radiated to my jaw and down both arms. I also had shortness of breath. Everything was telling me this was heart attack but I didn’t want to have another costly ER visit and the Doc tell me I am perfectly fine. So I tried more tums but by then I could handle the pain. I also tried to stay as calm as possible so that my fear, stress, or emotions wouldn’t make anything worse. I think that helped me greatly.

Finally, I told my husband we had to go to ER. If only for pain meds to stop the pain because I couldn’t take it anymore. At the ER my blood work was fine again but my EKG was a little off. This time the Doc decided to keep me overnight for observation. By this time the pain was more or less gone but I knew something was wrong to I agreed.

By the morning my lab work showed the enzyme your heart releases after a heart attack. I just couldn’t believe it when the cardiologist told me I had had minor heart attack. They set me up for a electrocardiogram and then on to the cath lab. The doc said I probably had a minor blockage and they would go in by catheter and fix it with a stint. Once fixed I could go home the next day.

My electrocardiogram showed only minimal damage so that was good news. While performing the Cardiac catheterization the Doc discovered that I had absolutely no plaque in my arteries but my heart attack was caused by SCAD.

Since this is so new to me, I only had the attack 1 week ago, I am still in shock. I have been resting so that my heart can heal and I am working on changing my life style. I don’t smoke, drink, or do drugs but I am a very emotional person and have had a lot of stress in my life for the last 5 years. And I really mean a lot! I am a fixer and want to help anyone who needs it but I have realized I can’t do that anymore or at least to the extent I was doing it. It’s time to focus on me and my husband and children and leave the rest to fend for itself.